Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) says he has more than doubled the budget for IGY, an organization catering to homosexual and lesbian youth, following the murder of Shira Banki by a crazed zealot in the recent “Gay Pride” parade in Jerusalem.
In an interview with Saloona Tuesday, Bennett said that the budget is being raised from about NIS 450,000 to almost NIS 1 million. “This means enlarging the extent of their activity, so that they can have double the number of members who can attend meetings and clubs in their activities.”
When Journalist Tal Schneider asked if he would allow a greater presence of homosexual organizations whose representatives speak with students inside the schools, Bennett said that he is "not aware of the details of these organizations' presence within schools," and would rather “study the subject.”
Asked how he would reduce the enmity between different sectors within Israeli society, Bennett opined that “paradoxically, in order to reduce the gaps, one needs to deepen his personal identity. If I study my identity as an Israeli, as a Jew, in depth, and I am at peace with this identity, I do not need to fear meeting a person who is different, respecting him, appreciating him, working alongside him.”
"We need to respect identity while advancing tolerance,” he stated.
Schneider asked him about a recent Facebook post by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), in which he labelled the Gay Pride parade the “abomination parade.”
"I reject these statements with disgust, including the one by that MK,” he replied. “There is no place for calling it that even if it is his internal position. I can respect the marchers and there is no room for calling them that. Halachically, it is written in the Torah that a person who does not keep the Sabbath must be put to death. So? Will we start going out and killing people who desecrate the Sabbath?”
"Eating unkosher food is also defined as 'abomination' (to'eva),” he noted. “So, will we define anyone who eats unkosher as to'eva? So why do people focus especially on the personal life? I do not accept this and I reject it completely. Calling a person this because of his personal choice and identity, I reject out of hand. And I want people to hear me say it, especially as a leader in religious Zionism.”
Schneider asked Bennett about the rally that followed Banki's murder, which he sought to address but where he was told he was unwelcome. “I was not hurt that evening, by the fact that I could not speak," he said. "My purpose was not to convince them, and I do not want them to like me. The truth is that I did not go there for those who were in the immediate audience in Tel Aviv, but for the public that believes in me, because I see myself as leader and as an educator, and I think the Tel Aviv crowd missed out. I think there was supposed to be a statement here and this is an opportunity they missed.”